The debate surrounding the potential introduction of a U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC) has gained significant attention and has become a contentious political topic in the United States. Interestingly, this concern regarding a CBDC is not limited to the U.S. alone, as both Canada and the United Kingdom also share apprehensions about this form of digital currency.
Recent surveys conducted by Trezor, a hardware wallet manufacturer, and WealthRocket, a financial news site, focused on public opinions towards CBDCs in the UK and Canada, respectively. Although these surveys asked different questions, they arrived at similar findings.
The population in both Canada and the UK holds evident concerns regarding the technology being explored by central banks and governments worldwide as a potential replacement for physical currency. A significant portion of British individuals expressed worry about the authorities in the UK having jurisdiction over their funds, whereas 39% of Canadians indicated apprehension about losing control over their financial matters.
Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. supports Bitcoin, citing Canada’s freezing of protestors’ bank accounts during COVID-19 restrictions as motivation. However, despite this incident, a majority (59%) of surveyed Canadians expressed willingness to use a central bank digital currency (CBDC) for payments, while 25% were not willing at all.
The Bank of Canada has no immediate plans to issue a CBDC but is exploring the technology in case Parliament requests one in the future. Conservative politicians in Canada, like Pierre Poilievre, oppose CBDCs, similar to Republican nominee Ron DeSantis in the United States.
Concerns among Canadians about CBDCs include fraud, cyber attacks, and the phasing out of cash, although the Bank of Canada reassures that paper bills will remain. Canadians showed little concern about CBDCs challenging cryptocurrencies. Safety and convenience were highlighted as potential benefits, with the BoC suggesting that a CBDC could safeguard the Canadian economy from widespread cryptocurrency or foreign CBDC use.
On the other hand, the Bank of England and HM Treasury have been exploring the possibility of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the UK since 2021, but a consensus has not been reached yet. Concerns arise over authorities having control over funds, with 73% finding it worrisome, and 67% expressing concern about CBDCs expiring, potentially leading to the loss of funds.
Similar to skepticism expressed by DeSantis, 62% of Brits worry about control over which goods and services can be purchased with CBDCs. Trezor Bitcoin Analyst Josef Tětek highlights a significant knowledge gap among the population regarding the impact of “Britcoin,” emphasizing the need for a comprehensive debate involving ordinary people before any potential rollout in the UK.